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January 2018 Fishing Report

12/29/2017 12:24:24 AM

Happy New Year everyone. From the looks of things it is going to be a very cold beginning but that does not mean the fish will not bite. There are a few things to remember in January or any of the colder months for that matter. The most important is to dress properly. It matters not if the fish are fairly jumping into the boat or up on the bank. If you are not properly attired then you will not be able to take advantage of the bonanza before you. Layers are the secret. Sure one may pull on a buffalo robe or cover their bodies with a tarp or other heavy wind proof material but if you do, one or two things will happen. Either you will get too hot at some point and begin to perspire which is a sure way to get hypothermia later on or the heavy garments will weight one down so much that the fatigue factor will make the fishing experience an exercise in futility! Dress in layers, the lighter they are the better. There are so many materials from which to choose that it is not necessary to be weight fatigued. Stay away from cotton! Once this fabric get wet or damp its insulating qualities are over. Some natural fibers like wool will continue to insulate but I am speaking of the new materials which if they become wet still provide insulation and dry quickly. They also have the ability to wick away moisture. It may be necessary to put on three or more layers to achieve a comfort level. follow that with a light weight wind breaker and you are ready for just about anything weather wise in our neck of the woods.

So now that you readers are comfortably warm and not weighted down here are a few tips on the fishing, and more importantly, part of the equation. In my five decades of guiding it has been my pleasure to fish with many different clients. They all shared one thing in common. THEY FISHED TOO FAST! Since fish are cold blooded animals they take on the temperature of the water and when that water is cold the fish move more slowly. My advice is to fish slow, slower and slowest to catch them My final piece of advice is to fish deep. Now deep can mean ten feet if that is as deep as the water in that particular area is or down as deep as seventy or more feet in deep water lakes. Usually there will be a happy medium somewhere just over the thermocline, an area where the demarcation of the coldest water to that of slightly warmer conditions form. The bottom layer will hold very little oxygen so it is advisable to fish just above this strata. To sum all this up, fish deep and slow. Now someone will no doubt call to inform me that they caught bass or stripers in two feet of water last week. My clients and I have had a few of those days. While that is entirely possible it most certainty is not the norm. With that said let's get down to where and when in my forecast.

Bass are a strange group. As stated earlier they can be sometimes caught in two feet or less water during some of the coldest weather. While anything is possible it would be a good idea to not hold one's breath in anticipation of that occurrence. There are always some bass near the rip-rap in the near-by deeper water. Look for some break in the structure of the lake in water ten to fifteen feet. If you will look at the breaklines the electronic map it is easy to locate the bends and tips of these underwater points. Now use the electronics to point out any trees or brush on this point or slope. Upon careful examination the fish will be easy to spot. Not sure if they are fish!. Back off and then return to the area. compare that which you see now with that which was screened a few minutes ago. Even in the coldest weather the bass will move around a bit. My clients have been catching some nice bass in the six to eight pound range following this exact formula when fishing for sandies and hybrids. By the way these bass came from twenty nine to thirty six feet of water on jigging spoons. If you non professionals have not tried the bass spoons in the four to six inch size then you may be missing the best lure on the lake!

Sandbass and hybrids are schooling together as they usually do in the deeper parts of the lower lake. I try to located underwater points in the twenty four to 36 feet range. The depth changes due to wind direction and the chill factor.

Overcast days are almost always better than high blue skies that come after a front pushes through. My inspection usually starts in the deepest water on the point and I then slowly work my way back towards the shallows watching for schools of bait and the fish around them. One thing to look for when watching bait fish is that when they are in a cigar formation lying flat to the lake's surface there is unlikely any feeding from the game fish. If on the other hand one sees a football shaped bunch of bait fish that is stand upright then there is a better than average chance that these game fish will bite. Work the edges of these schools before you venture into the thick of things because one should endeavor to catch the outside fish so as not to spook the entire school. On very good days the feeding fish will create a hole in the middle of the football shaped mass and that is when the fun begins. When the fish are on the bottom use one ounce slabs of various colors with a jig tied up above it. Work the lure very slow right on the bottom. Many times the sandies and hybrids can be caught by "dead sticking" the lure. If the hybrids are actively chasing the shad to the surface try casting a four inch sassy shad into their mist. Allow the lure to sink to the bottom on a tight line and then slowly reel it back up through the feeding fish.

Crappie are being caught in droves by the folks who can read their chart recorders. When the wind allows the crappie angler to venture forth he usually sets sail for the bridge nearest the Rockwall shore. I advise my clients to begin towards the middle of the bridge where the East Fork ran through and then work progressively shallower until the fish bite. This is a slow process and one must be careful that the absence of bites causes the angler to fish faster so that more water can be covered. Minnows and/or small jigs will do the trick. The key is to use light line and a very fast taper rod because this will allow the angler to detect the fain bite of the paper mouths

Catfish have begun to move into the shallow water as they seek to find a winter kill of shad. I do not think the cat the brightest of fish but it certainly knows when to go into the shallows in order to find a tasty meal that requires nothing but grabbing the dying shad and filling their bellies. Some of the biggest catfish will be caught on the roadbed north of the new 66 highway but they will also be in the cove around Captain's Cove Marina. A good way to increase one's chances is to bait several holes with soured corn, whole grain canned corn and chum from buffalo or carp. Some of the punch baits on the market will insure some bites but fresh caught or frozen shad work better for me. If one can find some small bream, put then on a Santee Rig and toss out a line near where you are fishing over the baited hole. Many times the big blue will detect the commotion and move in to horn in on the action. They just might find your blue gill too tempting to resist.

Watch the weather and dress in layers. fish slower than you think possible and go deep. One of the Pros said that the "wind is your friend". In this type fishing "deep water is your friend". Have a happy and safe New Year y'all.

The Cajun Guide/Johnny Procell


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